“Being a mother is like trying to hold a wolf by the ears,” Gram said. “If you have three or four–or more–chickabiddies, you’re dancing on a hot griddle all the time. You don’t have time to think about anything else. And if you’ve only got one or two, it’s almost harder. You have room left over–empty spaces that you think you’ve got to fill up.” (from Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech)
I realize this is a long quote, and I could have used just part of it. The first sentence would have been funny and precise. When I first read it, that’s what I was going to use. But then I kept reading and the last part of the paragraph really impacted me with its truth. I think we have an obsession with busy-ness in our society and especially among women. Maybe we think being busy validates our existence. Even though I believe wholeheartedly in what I’m doing, I sometimes feel embarrassed when I tell “working people” that I’m just a stay at home mom…with only one child. It feels like I should be doing more, like my existence is unproductive and unimportant. I need to be able to say that I’m a stay at home mom who also does all of these other things. Why is that? I think also that the empty spaces need to be filled because when they are not, I can start to feel lonely. I don’t like to feel lonely, so I fill the spaces with activity. But what would happen if I just allowed the empty spaces to be? What if I didn’t fill them? What if I allowed myself to feel lonely on occasion, and then dealt with the loneliness in an appropriate way? What if I took a nap without guilt?
Today Benjamin was asleep. I could have cleaned the kitchen, written this blog, answered emails, worked on the three stories I still need to edit, or picked up pecans. But I was tired, so I took a nap. I know that there are moms out there with four kids and no time for naps, no empty spaces to choose activities for. Do I have less of a right to feel tired because I have a slower lifestyle? No. Being a mother is like trying to hold a wolf by the ears no matter how many you have and sometimes it’s exhausting. I took a nap. It was great.